Anita Ekberg was a cinematic sex symbol that was immortalized on the big screen via her appearance in Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. Though born in Sweden, Anita found most of her fame in Rome and lived in the Italian city for most of her life. When she passed away there, she did so with only one major regret. Join Facts Verse as we explore what Anita Ekberg’s biggest regret was before her death.
Anita Ekberg Inspired Federico Fellini
Anita Ekberg was a performer who was immortalized at her peak via one of the most memorable scenes from 1960s cinema. The scene came by way of Federico Fellini’s 1960 offering La Dolce Vita, which was a satirical comedy-drama that is still considered one of the greatest films of all time today. Anita starred in the film as a character named Sylvia. True to Federico’s writing style, the filmmaker based much of the character of Sylvia on Anita herself.
La Dolce Vita became a big hit with audiences and critics alike, though the success of the film wasn’t due entirely to Federico’s artistic vision. Instead, the main reason that the film proved so popular with people was arguably Anita Ekberg herself. Anita was always quite a looker, though she was at her physical peak during the filming of La Dolce Vita. Not only that, but the picture took advantage of her looks in a pretty incredible way, by having the actress submerge herself in Rome’s Trevi Fountain. Soaking wet in the fountain’s water, Anita may as well have been completely naked when you consider how much of her form was revealed to the cameras. This resulted in what many still consider to be one of the most erotic scenes in 1960s cinema. It caused some controversy, and it caused even more ticket sales.
Performing in La Dolce Vita represented the peak of Anita Ekberg’s acting career, but the performer stayed at it for many decades afterward. In fact, the actress didn’t officially retire until 2002, which was over four decades after taking her iconic dip in the Trevi Fountain. By the time of her retirement, Anita was appearing in far less notable fare. However, the gradual downward trajectory that her career took after she began a star was far from being her greatest regret as she sat on her deathbed in the 2010s.
Anita’s Life Just Before Her Retirement
By 1999, Anita Ekberg was still living in Rome and was nearly ready to retire from performing altogether. It was around this time that the performer took on one of her last notable acting roles, which saw her appearing in a crude art film by the name of The Red Dwarf. Prior to this, she hadn’t appeared in a film in several years, with her last appearance in a film being a small role in a picture by the name of Bambola. Anita’s proposed role in The Red Dwarf was going to offer her a lot more time on the screen, but it also came with a few caveats. For one thing, the content of the picture was a little far out, with Anita playing an opera singer that becomes involved in an extramarital affair with a dwarf. For another thing, the role of the opera singer could largely be seen as a caricature of Anita herself, with the singer being an elderly diva.
It was perhaps Anita Ekberg’s similarities to the character she was asked to play in The Red Dwarf that made the film’s director so adamant that she was the right woman for the part. When Anita was first given the script for the film, she turned it down. However, the insistence of the director eventually paid off. Another thing that allegedly convinced Anita that appearing in the film was the right thing to do was the fact that the script was also offered to Gina Lollobrigida. Anita and Gina were contemporary sex symbols, and they had been involved in a feud for many years by this point. Gina claimed before her death that she never had any intention of taking the role in The Red Dwarf that ended up going to Anita.
In the decades after performing in La Dolce Vita, Anita Ekberg appeared in a few more films under the direction of Federico Fellini. Some of these films include Clowns and Boccaccio 70, both of which featured Anita in very small roles. A more notable film of Federico’s that Anita appeared in later in her career was Intervista. Intervista was released in 1987, and it was a mockumentary of Federico’s part that was meant to pay homage to his past work. According to legend, Federico managed to talk Anita into filming sections of the mockumentary within her villa.
Anita Tried to Make a Comeback Several Times
Anita Ekberg was happy to be working with Federico Fellini again on the set of Intervista, but she wasn’t so happy about the fact that the set happened to be her own private property. According to the late Anita herself, she held a grudge against Federico for several years on account of crewmembers dragging mud into her home. When the film was released, many critics seemed too hung up on how much Anita had physically changed over the years to appreciate the film on it’s own merits. She would only stick around the industry for another decade or so before retiring, with her appearance in The Red Dwarf coming fully towards the tail end of her career.
The Red Dwarf didn’t prove the comeback that Anita needed to become a star again, and she ended up retiring from the entertainment industry only a few years after taking her role in the film. When Anita retired in 2002, she had been performing in the entertainment industry for around five decades. Sadly, Anita wouldn’t get to live out the remaining years of her life in complete peace. In 2011, when Anita was 80 years old, she suffered a broken hip and was sent to the hospital for a period of three months. The former actress was already said to be fairly destitute by the time this accident occurred, and she didn’t retire with all that much money in the bank.
The fall that Anita Ekberg suffered in 2011 was bad enough, but things got even worse during the actress’s hospital stay. During her three-month recovery, Anita’s villa was robbed and then set on fire. This exacerbated the former sex symbol’s financial difficulties considerably. When she got out of the hospital, Anita applied to receive financial support from the Fellini Foundation. Sadly, the foundation itself wasn’t going so good money-wise, so there wasn’t much that they could do to help her out.
Not long after her three-month hospital stay, Anita Ekberg would tragically pass away. She died in January of 2015, and she was 83 years old at the time. Her cause of death was given as complications from multiple illnesses that she had begun suffering from over the years. Anita had been a smoker, though she had quit cold turkey over a decade before her death. There is one memorable story involving Anita and the aforementioned Gina Lollobrigida, wherein Anita refused to put out a cigarette on an airplane in the vicinity of the notoriously smoke-sensitive Gina.
What Was Anita’s Major Regret?
Anita Ekberg was born to a big family in 1931. The actress had seven siblings, which meant that she needed to find a way to stand out from a young age. As a young adult, Anita became the winner of the Miss Sweden competition. This led to the young woman being whisked overseas to America to appear in the Miss Universe competition. Though Anita didn’t win this competition, the whole debacle led to her becoming a celebrity. Eventually, she wound up in Rome, and this is where she became a huge star.
Before moving to Rome, Anita Ekberg worked for a few years in Hollywood to little avail. During this time, one of the only notable pictures that she appeared in was Hollywood or Bust, which was a vehicle for the comedic duo of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Another notable film that she appeared in during her Hollywood days was 1956’s War and Peace. By the time of her retirement, one might imagine that Anita had grown to have some significant regrets about the way her career in the entertainment industry turned out. However, Anita went to her deathbed with only one major regret, and it didn’t involve her career.
Anita Ekberg was married two times over the course of her life. Both of her husbands were fellow performers, and she sadly didn’t have much luck with either of them. Her first husband was Anthony Steel, whom she was married to from 1956 to 1959. Her second marriage was to Rik Van Nutter, and this marriage lasted considerably longer. Anita and Rik were married from 1963 to 1975. Despite being married two times during her life, Anita never had children. As she lay dying in January of 2015, not having kids was the actress’s only major regret.
Anita Ekberg died with only one major regret, and that regret was that she never had children. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Anita Ekberg continued acting until 2002, and that she had a feud with Gina Lollobrigida? Comment down below!